Muschamp's Dawg days
Published: Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 2:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 12:36 a.m.
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Intensity. Enthusiasm. Leadership. Tireless work ethic.
Will Muschamp forged his reputation on the football field, first as a safety for the Georgia Bulldogs before he joined the coaching ranks.
From walk-on true freshman in 1991 to defensive team captain his senior year in 1994, Muschamp made himself into a standout starter in the tough Southeastern Conference.
Today, your Daily Football Fix looks back at Muschamp's playing career.
Muschamp was a four-year letterman who played in all of Georgia's games from '91 to '94 — 44 regular-season games, the 1991 Independence Bowl vs. Arkansas and the 1993 Florida Citrus Bowl against Ohio State.
He played in all 11 games as a freshman in 1991, recording 14 tackles. In 1992, Muschamp was awarded a scholarship, played in all 11 games, had six tackles and led the Bulldogs with 13 special-teams tackles.
It wasn't until his junior year in 1993 that Muschamp began to make a more significant impact. A 6-foot, 190-pound strong safety, he finished with 52 tackles (tied for ninth on the team), one interception and one pass break-up.
Though he had a nine-tackle performance in the third game of the season, a 52-37 win at home against Texas Tech, Muschamp's biggest games were late in his junior season. In fact, his seven tackles off the bench in a dramatic 33-26 loss to Florida in rain-soaked Jacksonville spurred Muschamp into UGA's starting lineup. He started the last two games of the 1993 season (against Auburn and Georgia Tech) and went on to start nine of 11 games in his senior year.
In 1994, Muschamp was coming off a strong spring in which he was named the team's most improved defensive back. He finished sixth on the team with 84 tackles. He had five pass break-ups and two interceptions.
After starting with a combined 12 tackles and one interception in the first two games (a nail-biting 24-21 road win against South Carolina and a bad 41-23 loss at home to Tennessee), Muschamp slid into a reserve role with just eight tackles in consecutive wins against Northeast Louisiana and Ole Miss.
He came back with a strong effort through the final seven games of his career.
Muschamp had eight tackles in a heart-breaking 29-28 road loss to Alabama, eight tackles in a 40-14 win against Clemson, 13 tackles in a mind-boggling 43-30 loss to Vanderbilt and nine tackles in a 34-30 win against Kentucky.
In October 1994, with the Gator Bowl undergoing renovations in Jacksonville, Muschamp and his Bulldogs played in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, the place he had visited so many times growing up in Gainesville.
Muschamp had 11 tackles in a 52-14 loss to the Gators. The loss was disheartening, but he was on a roll.
The next week at Auburn, Muschamp had another 11 tackles. And even though the game was a 23-23 tie, the Bulldogs celebrated on the field as if it was a major win. No. 3 Auburn, which had dealt the 'Dogs a crushing loss during the Tigers' undefeated season in '93, had an unblemished record through its previous 20 games. Georgia rallied from a 23-9 deficit to tie the game and held on as Auburn's place-kicker missed a 44-yard field goal as time expired.
Muschamp finished his playing career with four tackles and an interception in a 48-10 win against in-state rival Georgia Tech. He graduated in '94 and began his coaching career as a graduate assistant with Auburn.